By Emily Byrne, Content Manager & Marketing Executive at Track24/AtlasNXT

What is safety culture?

Safety culture isn’t simply about your organisation’s compliance to health and safety policies. It’s also about your employees’ attitude towards these policies. Are your staff invested in workplace safety? Are you invested in workplace safety as an organisation? Safety culture is “the set of core values and behaviours that make safety a priority.” Source. In the wake of the Covid19 pandemic, in light of an increase in remote working, the number of lone workers in the UK and a rise in terror threats at home and away, an organisation’s obligation to provide a duty of care to its people has never been so important.

Contract Accreditors, CHAS, state: “Safety culture demonstrates the ownership of safety throughout the business and at all levels, it defines the representation of health and safety within a business and the attitude of the workplace towards it.” Source.

What is a positive safety culture?

So, what does a positive safety culture look like? A positive safety culture relies on the mindset of the organisation and its people. How do their values and beliefs influence the way health and safety plans are implemented on a daily basis? How can staff at all levels proactively take ownership of not only their own safety, but others’ safety also? How focused is your organisation on fulfilling its duty of care to its employees?

“Building a beneficial safety culture then has immeasurable value to a business. Good safety culture and, as a result, safety performance prevents injury, reduces costs and improves industry reputation.” Source.

Six steps to take 

Creating a positive safety culture is all about changing opinions and ensuring your staff are happy and comfortable with protecting their health and safety at work. It’s about making sure your organisation is going above and beyond to achieve its duty of care to your people. Staff should be encouraged to see protecting their safety as a valuable part of their working life, whether their environment is high, medium or low risk. Below are six steps towards promoting a positive safety culture. 

Senior Management should set the standards

A positive safety culture is a top-down initiative. Senior Management should take safety culture and health and safety procedures incredibly seriously, stressing the importance of these to employees’ physical and mental wellbeing. If management isn’t on board, employees won’t take policies seriously and procedures will prove to be ineffective. Management should set the standards and lead by example when it comes to implementing a positive safety culture and achieving the right level of duty of care. Health and safety policies should be universal, with everyone in the business equally responsible for upholding them. In the words of former racing driver, Jackie Stewart: “It takes leadership to improve safety.”

Carry out effective training

Health and safety safety training means employees are generally 25% more likely to be prepared to act in the case of a workplace emergency. Effective training should cover everything from workplace accidents and injuries, to workplace violence and cybersecurity threats. Workshops, practice drills and online training are all fantastic ways to engage your people to adopt a positive safety culture and ensure your duty of care to your people. Consider making training fun by incorporating team building activities, quizzes, games and prizes for top participation! 

Review and gain feedback on your safety culture 

Having your employees on board is vital to achieving a positive safety culture. Therefore, employees should have a say in what your safety culture looks like and determine what duty of care means to them. “The key to protecting your employees is to understand why accidents or injuries happen. Start by examining your processes.” Source. Engage with your team and ask questions. Which policies are working and which aren’t? What are the issues with your current health and safety policies? How can these be improved upon? How can you encourage your employees to take a positive stance on safety culture and duty of care? Be sure to book out time in the diary to continually review your safety policies. This process will help you best target the direction of development for a positive safety culture and address core problems within current policy.

Make improvements and set goals

Make improvements to your health and safety policies based on the employee feedback you gather. Set time-framed goals to achieve and make sure improvement plans are shared with employees and milestones are celebrated and recognised. This will keep everyone on track and motivated to achieve a positive safety culture and ensure your organisation’s duty of care obligations are met. 

Reward positive safety culture practice

It’s often thought that those failing to follow health and safety policies will be disciplined. Therefore, there’s already a negative connotation surrounding safety culture, in that it’s perceived as something which has to be done, or else resulting in repercussions. 

“Safety processes can often become something teams are wary of. Teams fear doing something wrong and worry about communicating problems to management. This can result in more accidents, injuries and sick days. Plus, it can have a negative impact on the bottom line and productivity.” Source

Why not shift this negative approach to safety culture by rewarding employees who champion health and safety policy? This will help you shed a positive light on safety culture within your organisation. Once you’ve established your positive safety culture and duty of care goals, you can shout praise from the rooftops about employees who uplift policy. How about giving a ‘health and safety star of the month’ award to your best responding employees, rewarding them with vouchers, company activities or a thank you in your internal newsletter for their hard work? This will set a precedent for others to follow.

“Encourage and reward employees when they report safety issues. Implement an effective reporting system, so teams feel confident they have reported an accident in the right way and corrective action has been taken.” Source. Start surrounding your new safety culture with a positive attitude and mindset.

Let software support you

Do you have an effective reporting system in place? How do your team communicate about safety?” Source. A duty of care, communications and operational risk management platform is the perfect solution to enable you to train and educate employees on health and safety policy. In order to help your staff comply with workplace health and safety, communication is key. Make the training process easier and ensure all your staff have everything they need to hand by hosting policies and plans on one platform using precision document sharing. Use broadcast communications or enterprise messaging features to send health and safety updates to your people. Apply location intelligence to tailor your messages to suit work site and location. Make use of critical event management features to keep your people protected and communicated with in a crisis. “It should also be ongoing to educate on health and safety policy changes and serve as a reminder of the importance of great safety culture.” Source

Here at Track24, we’ve provided you with a useful guide to promoting a positive safety culture within your organisation and ensuring your duty of care is met. A positive safety culture will result in employee satisfaction, safety and wellbeing, reduce injury and costs and increase industry credibility. To find out how AtlasNXT, our next-generation location intelligence platform can help your organisation achieve its health and safety and duty of care goals, click here: https://atlasnxt.com

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